ReCreate: 3 Photos

The other day, Jess told me about a photography contest she found out about, and we decided to submit three photos each. It was surprisingly difficult to go through my photo library and pick three that I thought had something really special. A lot of my photos were almost automatically ruled out because I felt the subjects were too “obvious”: a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, for example. Anyway, I thought I’d post the three I decided to submit:

Looking Through the Window at History

Radcliffe Camera at Dusk

Turning Around Before Dark in Joshua Tree

If you want to vote for my portfolio, you can check it out here! (Also, be sure to check out Jessica’s portfolio as well). It was really fun to pick a few photos I thought had a chance, and it inspires me to keep snapping pictures. It was also interesting to sink for a moment back into the stories these photos captured, and I hope they can transport you somewhere else for a brief second.

Photos from Germany and England

I took a trip recently, occasioned by dirt-cheap airfare and the fact that my parents were going already, to Germany and England. Awesomely, Jessica was also able to come! We spent a few days in Edelsfeld, Germany, the tiny town where my sister and her husband live. Then it was off to Cambridge, England, for a night with our friends Eric and Nicki. Eric is a student there, and we were able to have an inside look at some of Cambridge’s colleges. We spent the bulk of our time, however, in Oxford, where I’ve been accepted to read for a Linguistics degree this Autumn. We had the good fortune to stay with some friends from Schloss Mittersill who live in Oxford, and spent the days cruising around town, visiting colleges and pubs! Finally, we had a fun two days in London at the end of the trip before heading home. Here are two photo sets with pictures from the trip! As you can tell, on this trip I focused a lot on architecture, and enhancing the ancient buildings using HDR techniques. Enjoy!

Germany 3-2009

England 3-2009

Germany and Barcelona

Blog silence has reigned for the last month, largely due to my traveling in Europe and wanting, understandably, to minimize computer time. I spent most of my time in Germany living with my sister Rachel in a tiny town in Bavaria called Edelsfeld, where she is living with her husband while he works for the US Army. He is currently on deployment, so it was good to spend some time with her!

I also had the opportunity to travel with my girlfriend Jessica on the weekends, as she was spending a few months in northern Germany working this summer. We spent a weekend in her town, Celle, then joined my sister and good friends Trent and Natalie in Munich, then finally had a wonderful time visiting Barcelona.

Obviously there would be numerous things to write about, from stories to observations of interesting cultural differences to reflections I had during the last weeks, but alas! There is no time. So instead, I’ll just post links to the photo albums I’ve added to my Flickr account. Enjoy!

Goodbye, Car

My car

When I decided to go to Africa for 6 months (and do who knows what after that), it became increasingly clear that keeping my car was not going to be easy. Insurance payments and finding a place to store it just weren’t options. And so, somewhat grudgingly, I began the process of trying to sell it about a month ago. At that time it was a very practical and financial decision, and I didn’t think much of it. Now I’m sitting here with the fattest wad of cash I’ve ever seen, no car, and surprisingly strong emotions.

I feel, for whatever reason, as if I’ve lost a friend or a long-loved pet. It can’t be the wheels themselves–if anything, having a car has been somewhat of a burden with gas prices being so high, having to worry about maintenance, etc… For the most part, I didn’t need a car in Palo Alto, and I certainly don’t need one to get around here in San Francisco. So why do I miss my beautiful white Civic?

I think a lot of things are wrapped up in it. It was the first car I ever bought, during my junior year at Stanford. I can remember being with my parents at the car lot, learning the tricks of the car buying trade, knowing what I wanted but knowing I couldn’t afford it, and finally finding a good (if expensive) match in my little Civic. That was a somewhat momentous process in and of itself, and the car loan was the first monthly payment I ever had! Definitely “coming of age”.

But fundamentally, it has to be the memories. Memories of adventure, companionship, solitude, of joyful or tearful singing in the only place I could go where I didn’t have to worry about anyone hearing. Memories of driving a girl to dinner (and trying to be all cool because I was driving stick), or memories of the drive up the 280 to San Francisco, hitting the steering wheel and crying in frustration because I’d fouled up yet another romantic opportunity. Memories of driving cross-country with David and camping in a deserted Joshua Tree, or tackling the winding 140 before dawn with Dan dozing, on our way to a climb in Tuolumne.

For me, the car was never something I got into to take me to work–never anything I dreaded. Sure, I used it for grocery shopping and day-to-day errands, but the vast majority of the 40,000 miles I put on it were road trip miles, adventure miles, real life miles. So tonight, as I watched the new owner drive away, it felt somehow wrong, as if he had stolen many of my favorite moments from the past four and a half years. I wanted to run after and say, “No! I take it back!” I think we both got a fair deal out of the transaction, but something inside says that I sold the car (“her”, if you want to anthropomorphize) far too cheaply.

Well, at the end of the day, she’s just a chunk of metal and gears, however pretty she was. And I’m not meant to care that much about a chunk of metal and gears. The memories will have to find another repository, and I’m sure they’ll last much longer than the car, however the new owner treats it! For now, I need the money to pursue the path that I’ve chosen. I could spiritualize the moment more than is necessary, and claim that it was for the kingdom of God (and who knows, maybe it is), but that’s not the point. Whatever the case, I just sold my most financially valuable possession. Not quite “everything”, but it’s a start.

So, in honor of the car’s exit from my life story, I thought I’d post a few (chronologically ordered) pictures to commemorate the role it played in a lot of really important moments for me. Of course, it’s not an exhaustive album, but it will have to do.

Goodbye, Little Car!

Continue reading “Goodbye, Car”

Photos from the Sierras

My community spent a week in the wilderness recently, trekking from Mammoth to Tuolumne in California’s Sierras. It was an incredible journey, filled with fun, rest, and even a few challenges along the way (including some adrenalin-pumping encounters with bears). Sadly, my camera broke on day 2, but I did manage to capture a few shots, and the last ones these lenses did see were, quite frankly, astounding. The colors involved in alpine sunsets are fantastic!

Just click on the picture to access the photo set.

Backpacking in the Sierras

Sabbatical Photos

It’s 3am in Orlando, and my brother David and I are getting in the car to drive it cross-country. We’re blasting a trail across in order to transport my parents’ vehicle and things to the new place in San Francisco. Before I go, I wanted to post some links to pictures from the last 5 months! They’re unedited, but enjoyable nonetheless, I hope.

In each case, simply click on the picture to access the photo set!

On tour with the New Frontiers (Dec 26 – Jan 12)

Schloss Mittersill, Austria (Jan 16 – Mar 4)

Oxford, UK (Mar 4 – Mar 8)

Tumaini Children’s Center, Nyeri, Kenya (Mar 8 – May 1)

Productive Nostalgia

I am at home in Orlando right now, to be with family and relax during the Thanksgiving holidays. Another stated goal of this time is to avoid using the computer as much as possible so I can begin healing from my RSI’s. As you can tell from the mere fact of my blogging, such is more difficult for me than it sounds. In fact, I’ve begun to see computer avoidance as a discipline I should practice for spiritual as well as physical reasons.

At any rate, it is good to be home. One of the tasks my mother has set me for my time here is to go through all my old boxes of saved school projects, mementos, love letters, etc., and to vaguely scrapbook them. (For me, “scrapbooking” involves putting things into a binder).

Continue reading “Productive Nostalgia”

Geneva 2006

If you want to skip right to the pictures, click here

I just returned from Geneva, Switzerland–a trip I decided to take a mere 3 weeks ago. Every year, my parents have a business trip in late September to some international location (for legal reasons, these meetings have to take place outside the US). Since I graduated high school in 2000 and chose to attend Stanford (a quarter school), I’ve had the good fortune to not be in class during these trips, and thus was able to tag along with my folks. We’ve been to some great places–London (twice), Dublin, Lisbon, and Barcelona (after I graduated). I didn’t go on the 2005 trip, but since my work schedule permitted this year, I was able to go to Geneva. (For a few older blogs of such trips, see here for Lisbon 2002 and here for Barcelona 2004).

These trips are always fun, not least because I’ve gotten to know many of the other attendees, all great people. At times there have even been sons or daughters there like myself, and so there are often young people to hang out with, in addition to spending great time with my parents. My friend Laura was there, of this January’s Bahamas trip fame.

The group dinners are generally quite nice, and so it’s also fun to bring “dress-up” clothes to wear consistently. (I wore my suit this week for the first time since last December, I think). This trip was particularly special for me, however, because it happened that my 24th birthday was during the trip, and I had a wonderful time celebrating it with my parents and some friends, both at a spectacular dinner and later at our pub of choice, over fine cuban cigars and cognac. I certainly couldn’t ask for a better birthday experience, though I did miss my friends from home. As an extra special gift, my parents also let me use some of their airline upgrade coupons, so we all traveled to and from Geneva in business / first class. What luxury!

I spent most of my time in Geneva sleeping, hanging out in our great hotel (the Hotel d’Angleterre), working out or using the sauna, catching up on my reading, or wandering around taking pictures and buying sandwiches using poor French. One tourist highlight was definitely the Patek Philippe museum, which had on exhibit some of the oldest and most complicated watches in the world. The sheer amount of time, love, and skill put into these objects by their craftsmen was literally awing. One complicated mechanical watch we saw had over 1800 unique parts, individually designed and produced and assembled. This watch, like some others in the exhibit, kept track of the time, of course, but also such measurements as the day, the week, the month, the year, the lunar phases, sidereal time, the location of certain stars in the sky, etc… (taking into account leap years, etc..–it’s guaranteed to be accurate for something like 500 years if kept wound).

Life in Geneva appears to be very expensive, and the same was true of souvenirs. Accordingly, the only things I brought back were two beer glasses (one a .5L stein (Cardinal), and the other a Belgian snifter (Leffe)), both procured by my dad, free for the asking from bars. Incidentally, the beer of the trip was hands-down the Belgian Leffe (the blonde variety). It had a light color, a creamy texture, and a strong, sweet taste. It was not overpowering, though, and had a very strong spruce hops aroma which kept the whole thing dynamic and interesting. It probably now ranks in my top 5 beer list.

Well, check out the pictures, and let me know what you think!

Recording Spree Over: New Album Complete!

My recent weeks in Orlando were excellent, though not very relaxing. Between intense meetings at Teleios World Domination HQ (we’re meeting resistance in certain parts of eastern Europe), and non-stop work on the new album, I got 2-3 hours less sleep per night than my normal. (There was also the fantastic celebration of my dad’s 50th birthday party, attended by close family and the uncorking of a very expensive bottle of wine which was a good bit older than I was. Not to mention the less-meaningful but more-rowdy celebration of Cinco de Mayo). The result, at least on the music side, was a brand new 6-song EP that sounds incredible. The performance, production, everything is stellar. My brother David was in charge of the engineering, mixing, production, and mastering, and he is becoming very talented at all of the above.

Working on an improv synth solo for So Talk About It at 3am

I have a strong desire to share all our new songs with everyone here, but a few things remain to be worked out. First, I don’t have an “official” CD–David does, and he’s in Africa for a month. Second, I’m not naive enough to think that the mix I have will be final. We usually go through rounds of tweaking, and, while things sound excellent, there’re always one or two minor changes to make. Third, the album has no title. Fourth, the album has no artwork. I’d like all of these things to be present before I unveil everything officially. So just hold tight for now! I’ll probably break down and put one or two up here anyway, since the only reason I feel secure is that I am validated by my peers.

Speaking of being validated by my peers, let’s go on a tangent: those of you who are e4 weblog owners or frequenters might have noticed that I have added trackback capability to the e4 weblogs. Trackbacks are a cool example of the way the web is supposed to work–now, when you write entries, e4 will check out any links you make, and attempt to send a trackback ping to that site. If the site is trackback-enabled, it’ll accept the ping, and people who visit it will see that your entry references the page! Likewise all the weblogs here are now trackback-enabled, so anyone can send pings from Movable Type, WordPress, or wherever. Let’s just hope for no horrible spam!

(For you e4 bloggers, you can play with the trackback preferences at your weblog config page)

Well, I am now officially back in California for a while, so hopefully I’ll have time to write some more reflective posts soon. Ciao!